Motorcyclists encounter more hazards on the road than other vehicles. When driving any motor vehicle, be cautious of other vehicles on the road. Drivers have a duty of care to drive safely and avoid accidents. Unfortunately, some drivers may not be cautious and may breach this duty of care. If a driver breaches this duty and causes injury to a motorcycle driver, the motorcycle driver may have a negligence claim against the driver. If you or your motorcycle have been damaged by the negligent acts of an automobile driver, you are encouraged to speak to an attorney about a potential lawsuit. You will need an attorney who is experienced with motorcycle accident cases.
On the 20th of October, a local Maryville woman, driving a 2005 Harley Davidson, died following a motorcycle accident at the intersection of Bessemer Street and McCammon Avenue in Alcoe. This is a dangerous intersection in Alcoe because there is oncoming traffic from both directions. Knoxville News, reported that the motorcycle had been headed eastbound on Bessemer Street when the driver of a 1998 Ford F150 pick-up Truck pulled in to the intersection from McCammon Avenue. The driver of the pick-up failed to yield to oncoming traffic causing the Harley Davidson to run into the truck. Officers do not believe drugs or alcohol were involved. According to reports, the sun may have blinded the truck driver causing the driver to not see the Harley Davidson. The motorcycle driver was wearing a helmet; however, sadly, she was killed immediately.
The motorcycle fatalities from traffic accidents reached record levels in 2012. A Governors Highway Safety Association has reported that motorcyclist traffic fatalities have increased in the United States by 9 percent in 2012. From 1997 to 2011, motorcycle fatalities from vehicle accidents have more than doubled nationally from 2,116 to 4,612 while the total fatalities from all traffic accidents have dropped 23%. When a motorcycle driver is injured or killed in a traffic accident, in order to bring a negligence lawsuit, the motorcycle driver will have to show that the vehicle driver breached a standard of care. The motorcycle driver will have to prove that a reasonably prudent person would not have acted in the same way.
Specifically, in a negligence claim, the motorcycle driver has to prove:
1. the other driver had a duty to exercise reasonable care
2. the other driver’s conduct breached the duty of care; the conduct is in comparison to a reasonable prudent person
3. the other driver caused the accident
4. the motorcycle driver suffered some injury or loss
It is important to pursue a tort action as soon as possiblbe. Under Tennessee law, the statute of limitations for a tort action is one year.
Usually with motorcycle accidents, the fault lies with the driver of a motor vehicle. Many motorcycle accidents, like the one in the article, happen when another vehicles drives into the right of way of the motorcyclist causing the bike to hit the vehicle. Many vehicle drivers do not see or recognize motorcycles on the road. In the current article, the driver of the pick-up truck may have been blinded by the sun. In this kind of case, the motorcycle driver will also have to show that the driver of the vehicle did not exercise reasonable care when driving into the sun.
In the current article, the motorcycle driver was wearing a helmet. However, a motorcycle accident where a rider does not wear a helmet may complicate their negligence case. Tennessee is a modified comparative fault state, which means that a motorcycle victim can only recover damages if a judge or jury determines that motorcycle rider was not more than 50% at fault. The absence of a helmet may go towards the motorcyclist’s fault. Without a helmet, the motorcycle accident victim will have to prove that they would have received the same injuries even if they had worn a helmet. It should also be noted that, it is required by law in Tennessee to wear a helmet when riding a motorcycle.
A motorcyclist in an accident may bring a suit against another driver; however, insurance companies are usually brought into the case. When it comes to insurance claims Tennessee is an at-fault state. What that means is that the motorcycle driver will be required to prove the vehicle driver was at fault. This seems to be common sense, but at-fault states can clog the legal systems since there is no incentive to not go to court. In no-fault states, the driver of the vehicle will automatically be required to pay for damages unless the damages cross a certain threshold. But, since Tennessee is an at-fault state, a motorcycle accident victim will have to prove the driver was at fault.
Since motorcycle accidents are tragic and frequent, online news sources often report motorcycle accidents like the one in Alcoe. If you or a loved one has been the victim of a motorcycle accident an experienced motorcycle accident attorney will be able to gather evidence related to the accident and can review all the elements of the case. You are encouraged to contact a local personal injury attorney with experience handling these cases.
If you have been involved in a vehicle accident, contact Hartsoe Law Firm, P.C. at (865) 524-5657.
Motorcyclist Traffic Fatalities by State: 2012 Preliminary Data, Apr. 2013 Governors Highway Safety Association
Motorcycle Safety, 2012, Governor’s Highway Safety Office
More Blog Entries:
Knoxville Motorcycle Crash Awareness Underscored in May, May 22, 2013, Knoxville Injury Lawyer Blog
New Statistics Reveal More Car Accidents in Tennessee than Last Year, Dec. 18, 2011, Knoxville Injury Lawyer Blog